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Butterfly Effect 3, The: Revelations (Blu-ray) (2009)
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Details At A Glance
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
Lynch R. Travis
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Recently available on DVD and Blu-ray is the third entry in the series which began with The Butterfly Effect in 2004. That initial entry, which starred Ashton Kutcher, was an inventive amalgam of sci-fi, horror and thriller which was an engrossing, thoughtful movie experience. The 2006 follow-up, Butterfly Effect 2, was a direct to DVD effort. The star second time round was Eric Lively, but the dismal film wasn't. We now have the third in the series, which is not as good as the first entry, but way better than the second. Released in the US as part of the LionsGate After Dark Horror Fest Collection, the single disc title is released locally by Icon.
The Butterfly Effect 3 : Revelations, once again, concerns itself with a young man, this time Sam Reed (Chris Carmack), who has the ability to jump back in time. Sam is lending his services to the Detroit police department, going back to scenes of murders to observe who was responsible, then return to the present and give that information to the police. The film opens pre-main title with Sam lurking in urban shrubbery observing a particularly brutal slaying of a young mother. This quite gruesome skull crunching is also witnessed by the woman's young son. Using an observed phone call as a lead, Sam is able to return to the present and "finger" the murderer. In this instance Sam was merely a passive observer of the past events, refraining from any active meddling. The problem is that if Sam does happen to alter anything while he is back in time, this will possibly result in extensive changes to the present. This is the "butterfly", or ripple, effect. When a teenager, Sam had returned to the past to "save" his sister from a fire in which she had perished. He succeeded in saving her, and Sam returns to a now altered present where his sister has been been a continuous part of his life. Unfortunately, as a consequence of the sister's survival, it is now Sam's parents who were victims of that blaze. In the present, Sam is now assisted by that saved sister, Jenna (Rachel Miner), in his journeys to the past. These excursions somehow appear to be creating a serial slayer of young women, The Pontiac Killer, whose victims all have some connection to Sam. Each time our hero jumps, he returns to a present that has been altered, usually to his detriment. Sam finds himself becoming the chief suspect in the police department's search for The Pontiac Killer.
The initial film in the series had a cohesive rationalization of the consequences of the hero's meddling with events. With Revelations it is perhaps wiser to park your brain at the door, not to logically examine the consequences of Sam's meddling into the past, and to just sit back and enjoy the entertainment. For the most part, the film does succeed in delivering enough to satisfy anyone willing to go along with the implausible proceedings. The script, the first major credit of young writer Holly Brix, offers nothing really new, but moves things along at a brisk pace, and is peopled by some interestingly colourful characters. There is a strong feeling of locale in the gritty urban locations, with Sam's lodgings nicely downmarket and realistic. Indeed, this sense of authenticity is evident in all the settings and in the wardrobe of the characters. The direction of thirty-three year old Seth Grossman is efficient and economical, no doubt a result of his TV experience. Unfortunately the inexperienced Grossman is not secure enough to simply tell his story without relying on technical gimmicks, such as inappropriate hand-held camera wobbles, erratic focussing and the current trend for a "dramatic" limited colour palette, resulting in images awash in browns and oranges. More astutely, the young filmmaker has served up fairly generous helpings of well staged action sequences, gore, sex and nudity, nicely paced through the narrative. The screenplay is always interesting, managing to be exciting, gripping and even surprising, at least to me. Performances are solid all round, with the fascinating Rachel Miner (Tooth and Nail) excellent as the reluctantly helpful sister. The complexity of the relationship between the brother and sister provides the real dramatic meat of the film. Though Miner is extremely impressive, the star of the piece is the broodingly handsome young Chris Carmack who creates a protagonist you really root for. Still in his twenties, and with mainly TV experience, the actor is rarely off the screen and is totally immersed in his character. The action scenes are realistically handled by the athletically hunky young actor, but he also handles dialogue extremely well. Carmack has a face that the camera loves, and the extensive use of searingly detailed close-ups is startlingly effective, both on him and Miner. Carmack is dramatically effective from his first scene, and by the time we get to the highly emotional climactic confrontations he delivers with force and sensitivity.
This is no world beater of a movie, but, if you are prepared to make the jump into a storyline that defies logic, there's a lot here to enjoy. Everything about the film is sparse and economical, with an interesting, though at times confusing, plot. Characters are a cut above the average, and Chris Carmack supplies a dramatically credible hero. If you go for this sort of thing, The Butterfly Effect 3 is well worth a look.
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Yet again there has been a decision made "somewhere" that we are not to be given the full cinema image on the Australian Blu-ray release of a film. Over the past couple of weeks I have viewed three Blu-ray discs which have not preserved the original "Cinemascope" ratios of films. First there was Easy Virtue, then Columbus Day, and now The Butterfly Effect 3. The IMDB gives an original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 for this film, while the standard DVD version in the United States is presented 2.40:1. Why are we getting these butchered images on local Blu-ray releases? I know that subscription TV has been giving many 2.35:1, or thereabouts, movies a full screen height presentation. I have assumed that subscribers complain if their screens aren't always filled from top to bottom. I thought - hoped? - that DVD purchasers were more informed and discerning.
The review disc made available contained a more than satisfactory high definition 1080p transfer of the diminished image. Although not of reference quality, the picture is at times quite startling in its clarity.
The image is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was, I repeat, 2.35:1. I have commented in the body of the review on the sharpness and clarity of the image, particularly the extensive close-ups.
The director, or his DP, Daniel J. Stoloff, have at times used an extremely limited focal depth, with one cheek of a face being in focus while the other is out. This merely emphasises technique rather than enhancing the drama being captured on film. Similarly distracting is the inappropriate use of camera "wobble" (45:00).
The colours are generally very drab, with extreme emphasis on browns and oranges. It is pointless to comment on skin tones when the entire screen has gone brown!
I am tiring of this current trend , no doubt meant to enhance the "realism" of the drama. I'm afraid it has become an irritating and distracting technical cliché. It is surely ironic that the manufacturers of TV panels proclaim the millions of colours they are capable of reproducing, while filmmakers are so widely limiting their chosen palette. On television, Dexter, for one, manages to be dramatic without any extreme colour gimmickry.
The urban exteriors are brilliantly clear and sharp.
Shadow detail is good, though the almost monochromatic image does tend to give a murky quality to some of the darker scenes.
There is no low level noise and I was unaware of any MPEG artefacts.
There are English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired. These were sampled and were outstanding. Alternating yellow and white lettering is used to indicate a change in speaker, and the titles are also placed strategically on the screen, as close as possible to the character speaking them. Well done!
Video Ratings Summary
There are two audio tracks on this DVD :
Dolby Digital 5.1
DTS - HD Master Audio
This is a fairly good audio experience, with nothing shattering standing out.
The dialogue was always clear, with no difficulties in comprehension. There were no technical distractions and no sync problems.
There is moderate movement across the fronts, and comprehensive use of the surrounds, supplying ambience and the occasional special effect.
The LFE channel adds dramatic oomph to the well staged and executed action sequences.
The unusual musical score by Adam Balazs adds to the atmosphere of the film, and makes good use of the surrounds. The subwoofer also contributes much to the music, with a low level pulsating threat pervading much of the score.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
My review disc had nothing extra apart from the main menu.
The US standard DVD release has Miss Horrorfest Webisodes listed as the only extra - and Spanish subtitles.
Menu The menu is simple but attractive, with an animated image of a huge butterfly, accompanied by the end title song.
The options presented are : Play Feature
Scene Selection: Selecting this brings up two separate strips of six thumbnailed chapters.
At the head of each strip is an enlargement of the selected thumbnail.
Set-up : Selecting this brings up a small screen insert with these options :
English Subtitles : On / Off
5.1 Dolby Digital : On/ Off
DTS - HD Master Audio : On / Off
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
As I've stated, I am reviewing this movie having received a "pre-production" copy, so I am not certain what may or may not be on a retail released copy.
While the review disc had no extras at all, the Region 1 standard DVD release has only Miss Horrorfest Webisodes.
There is, as yet, no Blu-ray release of this film in the United States.
If you enjoyed The Butterfly Effect, this third generation effort is well worth a look. The storyline is strong and performances are all you could wish for, and then some. There are a few technical annoyances, in colour and camerawork, and the tampering with the aspect ratio is lamentable. Maybe you should rent it, and hope (?) that eventually the ratio problem will be remedied - or get yourself a US Blu-ray player! Apart from the colour, the HD image is fine, but there are no extras.
© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
|DVD||SONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD.
Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player.
Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|